Flashback Not so happy Birthday

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

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Not so happy Birthday

Postby Mittle on November 1st, 2022, 10:36 pm

17 Winter 513

The kid ran from the greasy looking guy that was talking to Ray, but he wasn't quite fast enough to escape him entirely. A hard hand grabbed the shirt collar and throttled the boy with a quick motion that stopped him in his tracks.
"Where you going punching bag? Let's go do some talking."

Not too far from their starting point, they turned a quick blind corner and entered a door concealed behind a stack of boxes and garbage.

"Get in there." He shoved Mittle forward into the small, dirty windowless room and closed the door behind him. The small place stank of rot, mold, fear, blood, shit, garbage, stale beer, all the vermin that infested it and far too many other things to identify. Rat walked around him in a slow circle, evaluating him with dark beady eyes so much like the rodents he named himself after.

"You're tall, how old are you?"

"Thirteen today."

"Hm." Was the most the older man would commit to out loud.
Tall but too young. Skinny but growing fast. His ears, Ray, said the scrawny kid was a pushover that only wanted to read. And never fought back or stood up for himself. Until today. The kid wasn't agile or sneaky enough to be a pickpocket. Too old for the kid skin trade and too gawky for regular skin trade. He was too tall for his age which made him stand out and just look like a big stupid mark for sure, at least until he grew. Catch the muscle young and they'll be loyal for life. Where would this one fit best? He could start him on grunt work and body jobs and see where it took him. Get him in debt and the kid would be easily controlled before he grew any more strength or muscle. Obligations and guilt were the easiest, most reliable weaknesses to exploit people that were stupid enough to be honest or nice. Endless sucker bait.

Rat had a finger in every pie in the city. Daggerhand, the wealthy, the lowest dregs of society, business owners, people in debt, those with enemies and most of all, anyone with enough gold to pay for services rendered. More working bodies were always needed for the enormous amount of things that needed doing in Sunberth.

"Why did ya let Ray do that? For years? You're a stupid kid."

Mittle's ears burned at the one insult that got under his skin.
"Am not!"

"If you're so smart, why ya just copying and joining your old man as a blacksmith? Ya could do something that paid much better. That's not very smart is it?"

"I can't get paid while learning book stuff. It pays money when I turn fourteen and finish my apprenticeship. Then it's a full smith's wages. Me and dad are joining the Smith's Guild." He answered defensively. It made perfect sense didn't it?

"Wouldn't it be cheaper and -smarter- to just kill off both of ya with an accident? And Seamus don't mind you two both suddenly getting more wages for less work...?" Rat let the question hang to make a point to the ignorant boy. "And what would the other Smiths do? Would they hate your dad for it? Say you did both get in-wouldn't the rest of them have a grudge against both of yas?"

The boy's eyebrows went up in shocked surprise at the dawning realization. There was no doubt that their boss would be pissed! It would be far cheaper to get rid of him and dad and hire two new people instead. Smiths stuck together--to a point. Money for your family was important and jealousy made people do ugly things.

"How's those book smarts workin out for ya kid? Things makin a little more sense now?"

Mittle frowned and looked uncertain now. His juvenile plan had seemed so solid just an hour ago. How could he have missed the obvious?

"I could always help out your old man and keep him safe for you. But you could never afford it kid." Rat offered casually, his voice careful. He turned to the side as if he didn't really care and noisily squashed a roach under his foot.

He was acutely aware of the analogy as he saw Rat killing something small so effortlessly. The lanky thirteen year old teen stood cautiously in the center of the dank disgusting room, still not entirely sure if this was a good idea. He scratched an eyebrow and watched Rat's foot. Gross. When the teen finally looked up after a few chimes, Rat caught his eye and said,

"Ya know if you want the protection for you and your old man, I'll give it to ya, but it's not free kid. You got no money, no nothing. But if ya work for me, no questions asked, then we help each other out here." Rat said, moving to stand directly in front of the teen.

They were almost nose to nose. The kid was gonna be fuckin huge when he's done growing. Best to rein in the potential beast now and quickly before he knew how to use a brain or grew another inch.

Mittle nodded but didn't say anything out loud, not quite ready to commit. He was being rushed and he didn't like making a hasty decision.

"How would you help?" he asked Rat. "What would I have to do?"

"Lots of ways. And who doesn't like makin' money right?" he evaded, hedging his bets until he could get the bite. If Rat could get the local Foundry guys in debt for protection, it would be a potential gold mine. If he gave Seamus a warning and a shakedown, the stage would be set.

"I'll tell ya what kid, you come with me now. I got a pay day meeting so why don't you join me? Then we'll go visit Seamus for a nice .. visit. Sound good?"

"That sounds fair enough. Ok, I agree." Mittle answered putting out his right hand to shake.

"There's a deal. Smart boy."

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Not so happy Birthday

Postby Mittle on November 2nd, 2022, 1:11 am

Rat and Mittle walked to the Foundry, taking the back alley way instead of the main road. The uneven cobbles were slippery with snow and ice, the glare reflecting everything in its freezing cold grip.

"Just so we're clear, you said your dad's not there right now? Not coming in anytime soon?" Rat confirmed, his breath turning frosty as night encroached.

"Nope. He's getting supplies for the next four bells. He won't be back until later tonight."

Rat gestured with his head at the tall cloaked man standing out in front of the building on the opposite side of the road.

"I'm gonna have a little talk with Seamus while you go stand with Hunter. And don't bother asking him anything, they don't talk."

Mittle looked and saw that there were now two cloaked men standing across the road. He attempted to ask Rat which one was Hunter, but he was gone. When next he looked up, there were four of them standing there cloaked and silent. The teen swallowed nervously and half jogged toward the men, not sure what to do with himself. They turned their heads in tandem at his approach and then returned to looking back at the upstairs level Foundry. Anyone could clearly see into Seamus' office perfectly from that angle. Darkness crept around the edges of the city, the night closing in slowly around them. The sun began to set on the wintery night, its rays flashing and throwing the four black clad figures into stark relief.

Rat pointed at Mitt through the window and the teen felt a quick thumb shoved between his shoulder blades, forcing him to step forward. A gloved hand reached out and grabbed his shoulder to hold him in place while the four tall figures stood still and menacing behind him. Seamus' glare locked on Mittle with a fury that could be felt even from that distance. Two large men that flanked Rat, now walked toward the window and closed the shutters, blocking the view.

"Show's over kid, stand behind us now." commanded one of them in a low voice that was louder than a whisper but quieter than a growl. The teen gladly got behind them, more than happy to get away from Seamus' anger.

"That's a really stupid thing you're doing kid."
"He's just doing the same damn thing we did at that age."
"It's really good money if he makes it."

The fourth one hissed a warning to silence and stood like a statue. Just watching. The teen shivered, wanting to at least stamp his feet and warm up a little, but he didn't dare. The quietest susurrus of a voice asked him,

"You sure you wanna go through with this kid?"


"Then learn to walk the line between intimidation and control before you step over to violence. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should."

Mittle had concentrated more on looking at the back of the man's head as he spoke and suddenly noticed that the other three men had vanished. He looked around him on all sides but it was just him and the tall cloaked figure standing in the shadows. Once the sun had set, that particular spot caught no nearby lights at all. The iced over dirty street showed no signs of footprints and the teen shivered again.

The shutters on the second level Foundry window opened up again and Rat simply looked at Mitt and smiled. It was a greasy pleased smile that he would come to know very well.

So caught up in Rat's attention, Mittle abruptly realized he was standing there alone on the freezing road. Dark blue eyes watched as the older man walked confidently down the stairs and headed for the back of the building. The teen jogged over to the back of the Foundry to meet up again.

"Did you-"
"All set kid, no more worries from Seamus. And a man always keeps his word" Rat interrupted him swiftly. "You owe me your life now Mittle. Don't you ever forget it." he paused to look at the teen with a muddy brown stare. After a long chime, he felt he'd made his point and carried on as if nothing at all had happened.

"You look cold and in need of something to eat. Some hot food and drink sound good about now?" he asked, beginning to walk to the tavern.

"Ok. Yea I'm hungry."

WC 740 Total WC 1753
Last edited by Mittle on November 30th, 2022, 9:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Not so happy Birthday

Postby Mittle on November 2nd, 2022, 8:27 pm

The tavern was especially crowded and noisy that cold wintery night and the pair stood by the side of the doorway for a moment. Rat scanned the area to take in who he knew and those he didn't. A group of rowdy men shouted and played cards with boisterous enthusiasm and drunken cheering. Most of the occupied tables were seedy looking people that looked positively starved and edgy. Rat said quietly to Mittle,

"We're gonna get real comfortable kid because now you get the long lecture part of the business. First lesson, you choose a table and find a way to make 'em leave so we can use it. I don't care how, just do it."

He turned to open his mouth to ask a dozen questions but closed it again. The man had said, no questions asked. The teen frowned at being put on the spot for a test he didn't get to study for first.

Definitely not the noisy table. The most desperate looking people were lean, very still and nervous to even a teen like him. Their fidgety hands kept checking their sides for their weapons as their restless eyes were continuously roaming.

Blue eyes drifted to two men talking intently in the farthest corner of the room. One was leaning intently toward the other, with clenched fists clearly displayed on the table. The second one leaned back in his chair with his arms folded over his chest and his long legs stretched out beneath the table and didn't say much at all.

The first type seemed like the best bet to him but he needed a way to move them. Three lean people were bent heavily over the table, obviously nursing their drinks for a warm place to be for as long as possible. Their clothes were dirty, tattered and had seen better days. Neither the two men or woman had a coat between them. It made him sad that they all looked so utterly defeated.

Working up his courage, he walked over to them timidly and finally spoke,
"Do ya mind if I sit here? Do ya guys have any food?" his stomach growled, as if on cue.

"Piss off kiddo. We got nothing for the likes o' ya."

"Just anything at all would help!" the teen insisted, turning sideways and shoving himself in on a seat to push his way in. The more he spoke, the more irritated and restive they became.

"So whatcha doin'? You look like thieves. Have ya stolen anything lately? Anything good?"

The trio varied alternately between angry, scared and unsettled but they just glared at him, trying to hunch down into their seats.

Good. They acted like they wanted to stay hidden and not call any extra attention to themselves. He could work easily with that concept.

"Are ya gonna buy more drinks?" Mittle asked loudly, making sure he was overheard. "It looks like you're done with those aren't ya? I'm thirsty I could sure use a drink!"

He remembered the large scary looking guy that was in the corner and copied his posture. The teen leaned back in the chair with his arms folded over his chest and stretched out his long legs beneath the table. His very long, gawky, awkward legs bumped into the guy's feet in front of him. The skinny guy jumped up, spilling the last of his drink down his shirt and glared at Mittle.

"Ya gotta death wish ya stupid kid?"

"No but those four black cloaked guys I saw by the Foundry, definitely looked like they did. Personally, I don't trust a bunch a black hooded guys hanging out just staring at ya. Can't be up ta anything good." Mittle threw in for good emphasis.

"Watchers?' The leanest one responded anxiously. The three of them looked out the window in panic and rushed to leave the table as quickly as they could, slamming the door loudly behind them.

The teen watched in surprise as a quarter of the room's occupants scraped back their chairs, banged into tables and exited in a hurry. The power of the word Watchers.. Hm. Rat came back to the table with beer and sat down across from Mittle, scrutinizing the kid's features.

"I never took you for the bullying type kid. You're a weak scrawny punching bag!" He laughed and took a long draught, pushing a mug toward him.

Mittle downed half of it rapidly in a few swallows, clearly thirstier than he'd realized. A lecture night? All the guy had done was keep -him- talking. "Fighting doesn't make you smarter and I'm not a bully. They just looked like the easiest group to move."

"How do ya reckon that?"

"The two in the far corner were very serious and making poses at each other. Most of them in here carry open weapons so they'd either ignore what I said or gut me for anything they could sell. Those three appeared as though they were the most desperate and scared in here. The most powerless. The saddest..." Mittle thought on his own words.

Rat nodded in approval.
"Correct assessment. Now there's a pretty barmaid on tonight so she'll bring us something to eat in a bit. When you see her, tell me what you think of her."

A stony faced woman strode purposefully toward Mitt holding a tray full of food with both hands. Her eyes passed over him coldly as she approached. The chime she got near Rat, she beamed with the most breath-taking smile he'd ever seen in his short life! Her dark hair gleamed long and flowing- she was remarkably beautiful!

Setting down the food platter, she let a hand linger over Rat's and the woman smiled at them both. Like flicking on a switch. The chime Rat turned away from her, the woman's face became hard and impassive, as if made of rock. A random guy's hand reached out to grab her in the backside and she merely raised a single fist and clocked him. And just carried on her way back to the kitchen.

"Ouch." was all the thirteen year old could manage at first.

WC 1,023 Total WC 2,776
Last edited by Mittle on November 30th, 2022, 9:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Not so happy Birthday

Postby Mittle on November 2nd, 2022, 9:53 pm

Rat spit laughed a mouthful of beer at the comment, looking ridiculous as he struggled to be serious at the same time.

"What?" Mittle asked, "Wow she's pretty."

"You're a stupid kid. I'm just wasting my time here."

"But she -is- pretty! Beautiful!" he insisted, reaching for the food in front of him. Rat punched his hand away from the food.

"Stupid kids don't eat."

The teenager looked down at his feet wondering what the big deal was. She was a pretty girl. So? Mittle slouched in the seat and waited for Rat to lecture but all he got was a flat expressionless stare that bored into him. The chimes lengthened and he tried not to fidget under the pointed and relentless silence.

The man carved off a huge thick juicy slice of meat and slapped it onto his plate, all the while, staring at him.

"She's got a good right hook?"

Rat looked away and sighed, continuing to cut up his food.

"When your balls drop, you're gonna be a fuckin' mark so bad kid. Stupid doesn't even begin to cover it." He took a bite and made a show of really enjoying it as Mittle's eyes were drawn to the hot and ready meal. He almost drooled.

Think think or you won't get to eat! It smells so good. Um she was pretty. No, he'd said that. She was a good fighter? No not that. Or maybe a little? Rat had increased his eating pace and if he didn't figure it out, he wouldn't get any of the huge meal! It really smells good. His stomach demanded food angrily and the thirteen year old could think only of pretty girls and food.

Tired of how dense the kid was being, he gave a slight prompt to kick the the kid's head back into the game and actively think.

"Is she a girl? Does she look anything like the girls at your school?"

"Hells no!"

"So that's not a girl."


Rat took a double mouthful of food this time. Teens were so stupid at this age, it was like they were another species!

Grey eyes watched the barmaid turning her smile on and off, her shoulders going rigid and hardly ever speaking. She was good at glaring though--especially when she caught Mittle staring at her. His gaze skittered back quickly to the diminishing plate of food.

"She's a growed woman. She controls people with her looks and a look." Mitt tumbled over his words and stared ravenously at the food.

"Now you can eat."

Mittle piled his plate with the meat and tubers, tearing into it hungrily with the single minded intensity of a growing thirteen year old boy. Once he'd cleared his plate, barely stopping himself from licking it, he looked at Rat again.

"This is important kid, pay attention. This is a lesson that you need to remember the rest of your life. Tell me the difference between that woman and the three people you shoved out to sit at this table."

"She got mad when I even looked at her. The other people wouldn't even look me in the eyes." He paused and thought a little more on it, now relaxed that his stomach was full. Then put together the unasked question.

"I controlled them, in a different way that she controls others."

"Not just others Mittle. More specifically, men in general." He took a long drink and continued.

"You saw those guys over there posturing, that was good. Why didn't you see or say the woman was posturing too?" he asked slowly and carefully.

The teen blinked, flummoxed that he had been so colossally dumb tonight. 'What was wrong with me? Why am I missing obvious things?' he thought to himself.

"I didn't see it past all her prettiness, I guess."

"Nailed it. Sucks dunnit? Get used to it kid. Women are tougher than men and if they can kick your ass, they will."

Both he and mitt poured out another mug and sipped.

"They get hit on and pawed at each day and every night by guys they don't like because they're pretty. Mittle stop staring at her. Eyes off and pay attention kid." Rat said firmly, waving a hand in front of his eyes.

"Did anyone grab your ass when you walked in here?"

"What? No!" the boy was startled.

"Has it sunk in yet? I hate this gods damn age!"

WC 739 Total WC 3,515
Last edited by Mittle on November 30th, 2022, 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Not so happy Birthday

Postby Mittle on November 3rd, 2022, 1:13 am

A group of terrifyingly huge men entered the tavern and the whole level of conversation dropped quickly. All four of the tall brawny guys walked over to the card table and just looked at the six of them sitting there. Chairs scraped the floor and the cowed men moved to stand by the bar in silence, not even looking in their general direction.

The barmaid went immediately to their table with three large pitchers filled to their brims and wore a big smile.

"Hey Molly! When you gonna marry me gorgeous?" One of them called out as he slipped a large hand around her waist while both of her hands were obviously busy.

"As soon as you're not already married sweetie." she laughed, set down the beer and playfully tugged his hand away. The moment her back was turned, her expression turned savagely murderous, her eyes flaring with rage. Those were the exact same guys that Rat paid earlier today. The Muscle that worked for him. The teen didn't think he'd ever get as big they were, nor did he want to. They didn't even have necks!

With dark blue eyes, Mittle watched all of it intensely, seeing the whole scene in action. The bullying without saying a word, the posturing from everyone. Had he looked that stupid with her? Was she picturing killing pretty much every one of the people in there? Did those men always get what they wanted just for being big?

Another woman dressed as a barmaid came in through the door and took off her coat to help out Molly. They whispered something to each other and glanced at Rat as covertly as possible.

The teen watched the interchange more from the big tall guys that were now raising the noise level in the tavern by twice what it was before.

Molly suddenly appeared at the table with another amazing smile and bent to clear the tray and gather the empty pitcher.

Mittle just gawked at her like the ridiculous thirteen year old boy he was, his eyes glued. The woman abruptly leaned in to his face and whispered with a lovely smile.

"I kill little boys like you before breakfast. Look somewhere else or better yet, go home kid. It's past your bed time."

His mouth hung open and his mind just stopped.

Rat laughed heartily and slid some money into her hand with a smooth gesture.
"He's a dumbass ain't he? One more pitcher and enjoy the tip. Sorry none of my boys got any manners."

The moment she left, the man slipped him a coin and said quietly.
"When she comes back with the pitcher, give the money to her. And close your damn mouth."

He hadn't realized it was open so he closed his mouth with an almost audible snap. Mittle was way out of his element among these people. There was no top of the class book learning prized pupil in a grungy tavern filled with big ugly drunks and outright hatred. But he'd have to learn it now. It was expecte--

Long black hair dangled in front of his eyes and he swiftly pushed the coin forward in total silence, his eyes on the table. Molly gave him a brilliant flash of a smile and left them.

Apparently courtesy was bought with terror or money. Or both. He thought, unsettled at the idea. The window on his right showed the moon rising and it was later than he'd thought. His parents would be home in only a few chimes and he needed to find a way to get home without going near the Foundry. Or was it safe to go by there now?

"I'll see you at the fifth bell tomorrow. First night's work, don't be late."

"But where do I-"

"You'll know." Rat said firmly. A Watcher appeared outside the window for just the briefest of chimes.

"There's your cue to go home kid. You can walk by the Foundry now, oh, and happy birthday." Rat said with a greasy pleased smile.

WC 674 Total WC 4,189
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